Alon Farber Hagiga with Dave Douglas

The Magician: Live in Jerusalem



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MUSIC REVIEW BY Ferdinand Dupuis Panther, Jazz'halo (Belgium)


The recordings of the album are taken from a live performance at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem on June 27, 2023. With "Persistence Of Memory" the sextet around woodwind player Alon Farber opens. The Ensemble Hagiga and guest Dave Douglas are characterized by an impressive brass power, consisting of a trumpeter, a trombonist, a soprano and alto saxophonist and a tenor saxophonist or clarinetist. In tutti they almost sound like a small big band. At the same time, you have to think of the Adderley Brothers for a few moments, right?

Compared to the brass, the members of the rhythm section tend to take a back seat. The sound that Alon Farber conjures up with his soprano saxophone fills the room. They are joined by trumpeter Dave Douglas, a continuation of Farber's phrased lines. The trumpet sound rises as part of the arrangement, rattling, sonorous as well as crystal clear. This is full of drama, which then leads to the tutti of the winds. Doesn't the clarinetist Yehonatan Cohen also interfere in the musical events before sound colorations in earth tones can be heard, thanks to the trombonist Oded Meir? Towards the end we also hear rather wistful sequences, despite a sometimes "triumphant" trumpet. It continues with "The Magician" and an opening that ties in with the Adderley Brothers. From this opening, the tenor saxophone and trumpet gradually emerge more or less as soloists, and then seem to dominate the timbres. Then, yes, then the focus is also on the rhythm section, especially on the pianist Katia Toobool.

However, the trumpet solo in this 2nd track of the album remains in the ear. Flying sound lines pass by, increase in intensity, now and then consist of pointed sound utterances. Here and there, one even thinks that the term acidic (biting, sour) can be used to characterize the trumpet solo heard. And in the aftermath you experience a whirlwind of saxophone sequences. That's where the sound units roll over. Forward, always forward seems to be the motto. There is no such thing as standing still. Fiery lines are traced. These finally merge into a tutti of the winds. Big band sound sends its regards, at least at the end of the piece.

Then let's listen to a "Minuet for Maya". Sparkling keyboard play with bubbling sprinkles make up the opening of the piece. And then, yes, then it's the pure brass sound that takes us along and captivates us. Alon Farber is probably on the soprano saxophone. Figuratively speaking, we experience "spring tides of sound" in Farber's playing. At the same time, for the characterization of the sequences, one could also use the image of a turbulent sea and a storm surge, with rearing wave crests. But again and again the soloistic elements, also of the trombonist, are bundled in tutti. Honestly, a courtly dance like the minuet cannot be filtered out of the performance. In this piece, too, the role of the rhythm section is primarily that of accompaniment and subtle tuning in the background.

The minuet is followed by "Farbalak", before "Spring Ahead" can be heard as a finale. First the bass comes forward, then the drummer and finally the pianist with a concise pling-pling, before the brass players are gradually integrated into the musical concept. In addition, one hears a sharp "taketaketake of the percussionist" on his cymbals. Alto or tenor saxophone is the question for a moment, before the blower exudes its concentrated sound power. Then Dave Douglas steps forward and lets his trumpet be heard in fast runs. In doing so, one has the pictorial impression of experiencing sound somersaults and flic-flacs of sound. Aren't the musicians heading for a climax? With seven-league boots, the pianist is then in the process of determining the staging. But she must have made the calculation without the winds, who play themselves into the foreground, including the tenor saxophonist of the Hagiga Ensemble. We have a very dynamically designed album in front of us. You can feel an irrepressible wit, the game seems to transcend boundaries, but still in the return to modern and cool jazz, doesn't it?

Translated from German





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